Are low cost carriers suitable for business travellers? You may be surprised by the answer!

5 min read

A low-cost carrier or budget airline (LCCs) is an airline that offers lower fares in exchange for a more basic service than traditional scheduled airlines. These ‘no frills’ airlines usually charge for extras such as priority boarding, seat allocation, check-in baggage and food on top of the basic ticket price. While this has been the favoured pricing strategy for low cost carriers for some time, we’re starting to see more traditional carriers follow suit as they test new ways to drive extra revenue and/or compete with their newer rivals.

Although low cost carriers don’t have separate cabins on board and are generally a one class service, if the price is right for the business then low cost carriers offer a viable option for corporate travellers, as long as the service provided fulfils their needs. The majority of corporate travel policies will state that employees should travel in economy class for short haul flights, so the lack of a premium cabin isn’t a cause of concern for most businesses. While all low-cost carriers’ services vary, in some cases, a low cost carrier will offer a service that is as good or even better than some of the scheduled airlines themselves!

To see how low carriers stack up, let’s have a look at easyJet, one of the world’s leading low cost carriers. EasyJet came 4th in the World Airline Awards in the category for the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline 2016. They have a simple and transparent approach to their ticket prices, offering three different ticket types:

  • Standard (includes your flight ticket, taxes and hand luggage only)
  • Inclusive (a few extra perks for the corporate traveller)
  • Flexi (the most expensive fare but it includes everything)

We’ve outlined what each includes in the table below.

Flight Fare and TaxesYesYesYes
Cabin BagYesYesYes
Hold LuggageExtraYes 20kgYes
Seat SelectionExtraYes(excluding up front and extra legroom)Yes
easyJet Plus Speedy BoardingNoNoYes
easyJet Plus bag dropNoNoYes
Fast Track SecurityNoNoYes
Unlimited date changesNoNoYes
Free route changesNoNoYes
No payment feesNoYesYes
Flexi Bistro Voucher (£5)NoNoYes

The Inclusive fare is only available to reputable travel management companies.

Are there any specific benefits of using a low cost carrier?

These days many of the low cost carriers have really upped their game when it comes to service, and in doing so they have become more appealing to business travellers. EasyJet’s willingness to work with travel management companies is a perfect example. So rather than assuming the service you’ll get is below par, low cost carriers should be considered a real contender for corporate travel business. If you’re still not convinced here are a few other benefits of booking with a low cost carrier.

#1 Check in 30 days in advance

Travellers can sometimes (depending on the airline) check in online up to 30 days in advance and in some cases up to 2 hours prior to their flight departing. This makes the process of checking in more manageable for the business traveller, when organising your trip and planning your time away is taking up the majority of your time.  

#2 Innovative mobile apps

With mobile making its way onto the Buying Business Travel – Travel Trends list for 2017 LCCs are making the life of the business traveller much easier. Some low cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair have mobile apps, meaning you can check in whilst on the go. This loads your boarding card which is stored offline, so there is no need to worry about any extra roaming charges when showing the card at security or the gate.

#3 Easy transfer to earlier flights

If your meeting finishes early and you arrive at the airport noticing there is an earlier flight to the same city on the return leg of your trip, some airlines have an early transfer option (subject to availability and a fee!) meaning they will transfer you to the earlier flight.

#4 Missed flight rescue fee

What if the worst happens and you miss your flight due to transportation problems? What can an LCC do for you? If you have arrived at the airport within 2 hours of the scheduled departure, some low cost airlines have what they call  “Missed flight rescue fee”  (subject to availability and a fee). They will try and get you on the next flight to your destination, rather than you having to buy a completely new ticket or arranging a stopover, making your business trip a lot easier.

So as you can see, some low cost carriers may well be suitable for business travellers in some cases but don’t forget Scheduled Airlines provide a worldwide range of routes to long haul destinations and provide more comfort and perks when on board. A good Travel Management company will be able to provide the best guidance on routes and fares, whether that be with a Scheduled Airline or Low Cost Carrier and you should find it easy to compare these options when using their online booking tool.